The Leeds Rhinos returned to Emerald Headingley still seeking their opening win of the 2022 Super League campaign and things didn´t get any easier as they came up against last season´s Minor Premiers and the side widely tipped for a second consecutive Grand Final appearance, the Catalans Dragons.
There were a couple of changes for home coach Richard Agar who replaced Donaldson with O´Connor and brought Dwyer back after his one game suspension, and after sneaking a win against Wakefield Trinity last week Steve McNamara brought Davies and Jullien along with Seguir on the bench.
The Rhinos knew that a four-point win would lift them into sixth, but the Dragons needed to win by well over forty to alter their league position.
Alex Mellor took a knock early on and was stretchered off the field after a lengthy stop in play with just two minutes showing on the clock.
On fourteen Kruise Leeming put in an excellent 40-20 to alleviate some of the pressure on the Leeds defence and on the third tackle to Rhinos were awarded a penalty for a ball steal and then they forced a goal line drop out. But the Dragons defence held strong.
On twenty-two the Rhinos finally broke the deadlock when Blake Austin took the ball five from the line, juggled the ball twice, and despite being tackled and released he crawled to the line and grounded the ball. The video referee was consulted but agreed with the on-field official and awarded the try. Aidan Sezer hit the post with his conversion attempt, the Rhinos with a four-point lead.
On twenty-six Fouad Yaha took the ball on the left overlap and crashed over the line as the Leeds players struggled to cover. Sam Tomkins hit the far upright with the conversion attempt, the scores level at 4-4.
Leeds were conceding a mountain of penalties and putting themselves under pressure but on thirty-two a tackle from Michael McIlorum saw Austin, the try scorer, taken off the field for a head assessment.
It had been an ugly first forty, the sides tied together with a try each.
On forty-nine a Sam Kasiano short pass found Joe Chan who went through a gap in the Rhinos defence to score from five metres out. Josh Drinkwater took the kicking duties with Tomkins off the field and added the conversion for a 10-4 lead.
With fifty-five on the clock a grubber kick to the corner from Mitchell Pearce was grounded by Yaha but the video referee saw an interference on Liam Tindall as he chased back, and the try was ruled out.
A head high tackle from Mitchell Pearce saw the Dragons half-back sin-binned on sixty-five but he Rhinos couldn´t make the extra man count as the Dragons defended the remainder of the game for a 10-4 victory to take back on the plane to Perpignan.
Two very average sides, unable to blame the conditions, played out a low skilled and unimaginative game in front of the SKY cameras. The Dragons looked out of condition, and the Rhinos looked as though they were meeting each other for the first time and were being introduced to a rugby ball. Not one to live long in the memory, two points for the Dragons, three consecutive losses for the Rhinos.
Leeds Rhinos: Walker, Tindall, Briscoe, Sutcliffe, Handley, Austin (T), Sezer, Oledzki, Leeming, Prior, Mellor, Gannon, Tetevano. Subs: Smith, Dwyer, Donaldson, O´Connor.
Catalans Dragons: Tomkins, Yaha (T), Langi, Whare, Davies, Drinkwater (G), Pearce (SB on 65), Dezaria, McIlorum, McMeeken, Whitley, Jullien, Garcia. Subs: Seguir, May, Chan (T), Kasiano.
Score Progression: 4-0, 4-4 : HT : 4-8, 4-10, (SB) : FT .
Referee: Jim Smith.